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How to use social media to increase sales and footfall

by wrich

Toby Britton, co-founder of Miappi

If I asked you to think of an example of good social media marketing, what would come to mind? Would it be a moment of twitter banter between two competitive brands e.g. Colin (M&S) versus Cuthbert (Aldi)? A catchy hashtag? A well-placed reaction to a social movement? Or maybe, as Yorkshire Tea and PG Tips demonstrated last year when they spontaneously publicly joined forces against a right-wing blogger, a blend of approaches?

While there’s a time and a place for this style of conspicuous social media strategy, this approach can be risky as the chances of getting the tone wrong or coming across as inauthentic are high. Besides, there’s more to social media than the odd PR stunt. 

In this article we’ll talk about how you might be missing an opportunity to truly get under the skin of customers, and allow your social media strategy to be an integrated and seamless part of the whole customer experience. At its smoothest, your social media channels could be converting to online and real-life sales, creating a real life buzz on the ground. This is achieved by tapping into your most valuable resource – the authenticity of the customers themselves.

Step 1 – Humanise your brand

Stop talking at your customers and start to embody them. There’s no better way to cut through the noise of brands telling us what they think we need, by showing us people like ourselves. One of the best examples of this is Rihanna’s brand Fenty Beauty, which disrupted the beauty industry by building itself on social media, quickly seeing the potential of new social media formats, humanising its voice by producing make-up tutorials, and aligning itself with advocates for diversity and body positivity in beauty. 

Step 2 – Curate and republish user-generated content (UGC)

User-generated content, or UGC for short, is content created by engaged customers and fans of your brand, about your brand, which is often shared on social media. By using a smart digital platform, you can listen to what your customers are saying about you on your hashtags and @mentions, and start to understand what might drive customers to produce UGC that celebrates your brand, and their real-life experiences with it. Aggregate, license and republish the most impactful UGC on your owned social media channels and you’ll be boosting engagement and consumer confidence with a social seal of approval. In fact, when posted to owned channels, we found that UGC achieved up to 7 x the engagement of brand-owned posts.

You can encourage the creation of UGC by fostering a sharing community, giving your followers and customers instructions as to what to create, as well as run UGC-powered competitions and initiatives such as the Dove #ShowUs campaign, which generated a vast photo library full of examples of beauty diversity. The more positive sentiment that’s out there relating to your products and services, the more visible you are and the more you’ll benefit from the power of word of mouth. In fact, 92% of people trust earned media such as recommendations from peers over traditional media (Source: Nielsen).

Step 3 – Add UGC to the purchase pathway (ecommerce), on display marketing and more

Consulting our peers or looking to social media has become a crucial part of our purchase decision making process. Fortunately for brands, it is possible to accelerate the process by republishing positive sentiment to web pages and ecommerce product pages in order to boost consumer confidence and even inspire new product purchases. In fact, when added to websites, UGC has been known to increase conversion rates by as much as 29% (source: Adweek). 

 But how can we translate conversations online and UGC into real-life experiences on the ground? By running pop-up activations or incentives in-store with a relevant hashtag, you can encourage customers and visitors to get involved. Miappi worked with Heineken to power the digital screens at the original interactive Heineken Experience brewery in Amsterdam. The live wall encouraged visitors to capture and share their time in the Heineken Experience, providing Heineken with a wealth of authentic UGC featuring happy visitors, to use on the live wall and elsewhere online on the purchase path, giving prospective visitors a sense of FOMO and encouraging them to click ‘book now’.  

Step 4 – Invest in Paid Social Advertising

The extra engagement that UGC generates makes it an excellent choice for maximising ROI on paid advertising opportunities. UGC works because it’s more unique and memorable than traditional brand created adverts, and by selecting tried-and-tested UGC for your paid advertising, you’ll have greater confidence that you’ll get value for money.

Gymshark capitalised on its organic content by using paid advertising for its 2017 Black Friday sale. This campaign saw a whopping 6.6x return on ad spend and resulted in 40% of its sale purchases coming from Instagram (source: econsultancy).

Step 5 – Build a micro-influencer network and invest in community

It’s important to nurture a brand community of customers who have genuine love for your brand, and the savviest brands are doing this through specially-built community platforms. Don’t just go by follower numbers, choose your influencers based on their areas of expertise, and whether they have love for your brand already. 

Hugely successful gymwear disruptor Gymshark is a master at making the best use of influencers who have genuine love for the brand, as well placing community at the centre of its strategy. It’s easy to see how the online community has translated into real life happenings at one of Gymshark’s hotly anticipated pop-up events throughout the UK, which brings their rich and diverse community of fans together.

About Toby Britton, co-founder of Miappihttps://miappi.com/miappi-community/

Toby is the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Miappi. Toby has been involved in the creative and communications industries since mid-nineties when he started working for independent TV production companies in the production of documentary films. In 2001 he transferred his film making skills marketing and advertising before starting to focus on digital projects. It was these agency-side projects that led Toby to start the business that would evolve into Miappi. Today, Toby oversees the design, development and marketing of Miappi.  

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